According to disclosure forms with the Federal Election Commission, President Obama's reelection team appears to have paid $92,751.50 to rent the Ohio State University's Jerome Schottenstein Center, the site of the campaign's much touted kick-off event in May.
The disclosure appears on records of the campaign's June spending, though the event took place May 5. And of course does not include other costs associated with the event; only the cost of renting the arena.
The event was widely considered a dud, and perhaps best remembered for images of the numerous empty seats:
The Drudge Report headline after the campaign launch event read, "OBAMA LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN IN HALF EMPTY STADIUM."
But it was not supposed to be that way. As ABC News reported the day of the event, "The Obama campaign expects overflow crowds ... as part of carefully orchestrated optics. Aides want to portray the president as still highly popular among young people and still able to energize large crowds."
Considering the event's failed attempt to achieve its stated goal, the $92,751.50 price tag for the arena that could hold a maximum 20,000 might not have been worth the cost. Especially now: The AP reports this morning that"President Barack Obama's re-election campaign spent more than it collected in June."
The official Obama campaign stat from its Tumblr account stated, "14,000 people showed up to see Obama (and the First Lady) at his first campaign rally." But the thousands and thousands of empty seats came at a serious cost.
It's a campaign faux pas to hold an event in a room that isn't full; to promise the media a more-than-capacity crowd then fall this far short of that promise is utter incompetence. In 2008, Obama ran a near-flawless campaign, buoyed by enthusiasm and effective organizing. But it's not 2008 any more, and on day one of the 2012 campaign, Team Obama has already made an embarrassing blunder.